A Montana lawmaker who is seeking to bring reverence for God and a respect for the Constitution and cultural totems back into the Big Sky State has introduced a bill designed to instill pride and patriotism into the hearts of the student body, one that passed the house and is now being debated in the Senate.
Republican State Rep. Bob Phalen, a self-described “Christian conservative with strong moral values” who served two tours of Vietnam in the US Navy, and now serves on his church board, sponsored House Bill 543, explaining that “we owe it to each generation to teach in our public schools what it means to be an American citizen.”
The bill is designed to inculcate a love of nationalistic totems and patriotic obligation within the hearts of a student body that has by and large been disenfranchised and disillusioned by the media shouting that their country and constitution are corrupt.
Not only would HB543 ensure that Grade 3 to 12 students would receive instruction on the US constitution, but it would see students across all age brackets stand for the Pledge of Allegiance each day. This is in contrast to the current model, which only has secondary students saying it once a week.
Whereas the current law allows districts to opt for a moment of silence afterward, State Rep. Scot Kerns offered up an amendment that would add a “moment of silent prayer” to the bill.
When pressed why he wanted to include a “moment of prayer” rather than a “moment of reflection,” Phalen explained: (Note, edited slightly for clarity)
Because I think it was 50 years ago, they took God out of school. Maybe it’s not quite 50, but close. But anyway, you can see what kind of Hell our country is going through right now. (But) this is a silent prayer. Or a moment of silence — it doesn’t say prayer right now — but if there’s an amendment added, that would be a moment of silent prayer.
And who knows what you’re gonna say? You might just sit there in a moment of silence! I mean, not everybody’s gonna pray, and they’re not gonna be praying out loud because it says a moment of silence. So, I just think it’s time to get God back in school in some form or fashion…
This is dear to me…I was asked where I got this idea, and it was listening to the David Barton and Rick Green series because Rick Green did it in Texas, and since he done it in Texas, and then several other states followed, then I thought this state [will] follow also.
This naturally resulted in some pushback from democrat lawmakers crying foul over the separation of church and state, up with one witness, Laurie Little Dog, suggesting that while it was good for students to understand the power dynamics at play in pledging allegiance to a flag, she considered the daily recitations to be little more than “upping the ante” of hateful rhetoric, given that the American flag represented to her the “continued genocide” to Native Americans.
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